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DRAGON GATE USA HEAT DVD REVIEW: THE DUFs, RONIN, AND MAD BLANKEY GO AT IT IN A THREE WAY ELIMINATION MAIN EVENT, THE BREAKOUT CHALLENGE GIVES YOUNG STARS A CHANCE TO MAKE A NAME FOR THEMSELVES, LOW KI TAKES ON BOBBY FISH, AND MORE

By Stuart Carapola on 2012-12-24 08:48:45
It's Wrestlemania weekend again! Or at least it was when the event I'm about to review, DGUSA Heat, took place. Wrestlemania weekend was the time of year when Dragon Gate first made its name in the United States, and they've done a great job holding up to that standard in the years since. Let's see what they brought to the table in 2012.

The show kicks off with Low Ki taking on Bobby Fish, who left DGUSA in 2012 and recently made his ROH debut leading into Final Battle 2012. They tried to trick us into thinking they were going to have a friendly chain wrestling contest at first, but quickly abandoned that premise and started beating the crap out of each other instead. They traded strikes and the occasional wear down hold until Low Ki drilled Fish with the Tidal Crush in the corner. Fish tried to block the Ki Krusher, but Ki was persistent and hit it for the win. Low Ki builds more momentum in his undefeated streak since coming to DGUSA/EVOLVE, but also a strong showing for Fish, who really was a major building block for EVOLVE.

One of the main focuses of the show was the series of Breakout Challenge matches, which gave up-and comers the chance to wrestle established DGUSA veterans and prove they can compete at a higher level. The first of these featured Ricochet taking on Mike Cruz, a youngster Lenny Leonard referred to as the hottest up and comer in the state of Florida. He seemed okay, he didn't really get much of a chance to do anything here because this was mostly a squash win for Ricochet, but he seemed solid enough. The members of Mad Blankey ran in after the match and attacked Ricochet, but CIMA and Masaaki Mochizuki made the save.

The second Breakout Challenge match was easily the highlight of the evening, as Samuray Del Sol scored probably the biggest upset win in DGUSA history by pinning Masato Yoshino. Del Sol has obviously become a pretty big deal in DGUSA and EVOLVE as 2012 progressed, but beating Yoshino strapped a rocket to his backside like nobody to ever come to this company. You didn't even see it coming because Johnny Gargano came out before the match and cut a promo to set up his title match with Yoshino later in the weekend, then took a seat at ringside. The fans really started to get behind Samuray when he kept going after taking a real bad spill to the outside, but it seemed to be just business as usual for Yoshino until Del Sol countered Sol Naciente to a rollup for the win. Yoshino was in shock, and even Gargano looked surprised, but Lenny asked whether this was really an upset or if Del Sol was really that good. Gargano said the same thing when he came back in the ring after the match, and also told Yoshino not to worry about it because they're going to have a great match. Yoshino told Gargano not to insult him and he walked out, and Gargano said he won't, he'll just beat him.

We move on to the third Breakout Challenge match, as Team Veteran of CIMA & Masaaki Mochizuki took on the Scene. Caleb Konley and Scott Reed were accompanied by their manager Larry Dallas and Amber O'Neal, who was playing their "random broad" of the night. With all due respect to the Scene, you knew that they weren't going to make it two upsets in one night. The highlight of the match was CIMA holding Konley upside down so Mochizuki could ax kick him in the unit, and in spite of Amber showing her assets to a mesmerized CIMA, Team Veteran got the win after CIMA hit both men with a double Meteora. Mad Blankey attacked again after this match, and Ricochet tried to make the save, but couldn't hold his own against all three guys and got laid out as well.

We move on to a match between two of DGUSA's best high flyers, PAC and AR Fox. They actually kind of surprised me by working a very methodical match for the most part, not breaking out the high flying until much later in the match. Fox got the knees up as PAC went for the shooting star press and nearly got the win off a springboard 450, but PAC countered an attempt at the springboard Spanish Fly into a German suplex, then hit an inverted Frankensteiner and a sitout powerbomb for the win. The crowd loved this match, pretty much mirroring my sentiments. This was a hell of a match and I wouldn't have been surprised to see Fox come out with the win given what a strong run he's been on this year.

This brings us to the main event, a three way elimination match between the DUFs (Sami Callihan, Arik Cannon, and Pinkie Sanchez), Ronin (Rich Swann, Chuck Taylor, and Open the Freedom Gate Champion Johnny Gargano) and Mad Blankey (Akira Tozawa, BxB Hulk & Uhaa Nation). This was a three way version of your typical Dragon Gate tag team main event where all hell breaks loose, except this time around that's how they start the match. Eventually things settle down as the DUFs trap Gargano in their corner, but he eventually gets free and all hell breaks loose again until Uhaa Nation hits a dive over the top rope and blows out his knee so bad that Cannon visibly breaks character to check on him. Uhaa, who showed godlike amounts of potential, ended up needing surgery and has been out of the ring recovering ever since.

Hulk and Tozawa wreslte the rest of the match by themselves, and still managed to eliminate the DUFs by pummeling Sanchez with a series of kicks before pinning him. Mad Blankey trapped Swann in the ring after that, and used the same strategy with the hard kicks to try and put him away as well. Eventually Swann made the tag and both teams went at it until Tozawa and Gargano were left alone in the ring. The two of them went back and forth until Tozawa hit a straitjacket suplex and pinned the Open The Freedom Gate Champion to win the match. This would lead to an extended rivalry between Gargano and Tozawa that even continued through DGUSA's last show of the year. We saw several shots of Chuck Taylor looking very frustrated, though he still gave Gargano a good pat on the back on their way out of the ring.

As usual, this DVD release includes several extras. Aside from the usual alternative angle highlight video, the bonus features included a pair of CZW Showcase Deathmatches that didn't do much for me, but featuerd a ton of violence you deathmatch folks would probably like a lot. It also included an AAW Title match from two years earlier that featured Samuray Del Sol taking on Silas Young and Gran Akuma.

I thought this show was excellent, DUGSA was hitting on all cylinders at this event and did everything right. The main event was excellent, and I really enjoyed the Breakout Challenge concept. DGUSA continually comes up with ways to make every show on each tour special in its own way, and things like the Breakout Challenge and elimination matches between three of the main stables are great ways to do that. Nothing important happened in the overall scheme of storylines, but this show was so fun to watch and so well done that it gets a big thumbs up on its own merits. Great start to the weekend, and looking forward to nights two and three.

For information on ordering DGUSA and EVOLVE DVDs and iPPVs, check out www.dgusa.tv and www.wwnlive.com.